2010 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Outfielders

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What’s great about the outfield position in fantasy baseball is that it’s like Wal Mart: you can get whatever you need and you’ll always be greeted with a friendly smile and a hello.

All right, so you won’t be greeted with a smile when you select outfielders in your draft. In fact, that doesn’t even make any sense so just forget we wrote it. The point we’re trying to make is that whatever you wind up needing for your team on draft day, you can usually find it in the outfield section. Need speed? The outfield has you covered. Need power? It has that too.

Below are a group of players that fit into certain categories based on need. You know that a guy like Ryan Braun is going to get you production across the board, same with Matt Kemp, Matt Holliday, Grady Sizemore and Carl Crawford. But the guys we’ve outlined below are players you can target in the middle to late rounds that will give you a boost in certain areas. You’re not going to get production in every category if you draft these players, but hopefully you’ll be satisfied in the specific categories we’ve highlighted.

Power Boosters:

Adam Lind, Blue Jays
Perhaps the most encouraging thing for fantasy owners about Lind’s breakout 2009 campaign, was that he was consistent throughout the entire season and hit right-handed pitching as well as he hit lefties. After hitting 35 home runs and driving in 114 RBI last season, we think Lind will be more apt to match those numbers (or even improve on them) this season than he will be to crash and burn.

Nick Markakis, Orioles
Even though he battled some major slumps last season, Markakis still wound up with decent numbers while hitting .293 with 18 home runs, 101 RBI and scoring 94 runs. At 26, there’s a good chance that he’ll finish right around his 2009 totals, which certainly isn’t a bad thing but if you’re expecting more out of the right fielder then you should probably lower your expectations.

Andre Ethier, Dodgers
Ethier changed his approach at the plate last year and it worked wonders for him in terms of production. He concentrated on hitting more line drives into the gap and his power numbers rose. We like him to hit roughly the same amount of home runs (31) as he did last year, but with a higher average (he hit .272 in 2009) and more runs scored (92).

Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Let’s not sugarcoat things: Hamilton is coming off a tough year and we’re pretty sure he’s made out of chandelier glass. But he’s also only 28 and is two years removed from hitting 32 home runs and driving in 130 RBI. Do we think he’ll match his 2008 numbers this year? No. But he should at the very least hit 20-plus home runs and drive in 80-plus RBI.

Adam Dunn, Nationals
Ah, Adam Dunn. How we love your 40-home run production and 100-plus RBIs, but absolutely loathe your batting average. You bring fantasy owners so much joy and yet so much grief every single year.

Adam Jones, Orioles
We love this kid and his potential, although it would be nice if he would develop into more of a base stealer. (We think he has the potential, although he’ll probably finish right around 12-15 steals again this year.) Jones missed virtually all of September last season with a strained ankle, but he should be ready to go by the start of the season and considering he’s only 24, we see plenty of upside in the young Baltimore outfielder. If he can stay healthy, we like him to hit between 20-25 home runs and max out at around 85-90 runs and 75-80 RBI.

Nelson Cruz, Rangers
There seems to be a mixed reaction when it comes to projecting Cruz’s worth, but count us among those that are high on the Rangers’ outfielder. We like him to beat the 33-home runs, 76 RBIs and 75 runs he produced last year and as an added bonus, he’ll steal 15-20 bases as well.

Carlos Quentin, White Sox
Here’s the bad: Quentin spent a ton of time in the trainer’s room last year while batting foot and wrist injuries, limiting his overall production. But here’s the good: he still managed to slug 21 home runs when he played. If he can stay healthy, there’s no reason he can’t hit 30 dingers.

Speed Boosters:

Shin-Soo Choo, Indians
Bobby Abreu, Angels
Shane Victorino, Phillies
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
Michael Bourn, Astros
Nyjer Morgan, Nationals
Rajai Davis, A’s
Julio Borbon, Rangers
Juan Pierre, White Sox
Dexter Fowler, Rockies
Drew Stubs, Reds
Michael Brantley, Indians

Speed kills and any one of the players listed above should be good for anywhere between 30 and 55 steals this season. So if you find yourself hurting in the speed department later in your draft, scooping up one of these players will add major value to your team. Just don’t expect much in the power department.

Below is our official ranking of outfielders. As we mentioned above, after you snag one of the top players to be your No. 1, there are plenty of players that can give you a boost in specific areas of production.

1. Ryan Bruan, MIL
2. Carl Crawford, TB
3. Matt Kemp, LAD
4. Matt Holliday, STL
5. Justin Upton, ARI
6. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
7. Grady Sizemore, CLE
8. Jayson Werth, PHI
9. Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
10. Jason Bay, BOS
11. Adam Lind, TOR
12. B.J. Upton, TB
13. Curtis Granderson, NYY
14. Nick Markakis, BAL
15. Andre Ethier, LAD
16. Josh Hamilton, TEX
17. Adam Dunn, WAS
18. Adam Jones BAL
19. Bobby Abreu, LAA
20. Shane Victorino, PHI
21. Carlos Lee, HOU
22. Manny Ramirez, LAD
23. Nelson Cruz, TEX
24. Shin-Soo Choo, CLE
25. Ben Zobrist, TB
26. Carlos Quentin, CHW
27. Hunter Pence, HOU
28. Andrew McCuthen, PIT
29. Nate McLouth, ATL
30. Torii Hunter, LAA
31. Nyjer Morgan, WAS
32. Raul Ibanez, PHI
33. Alfonso Soriano, CHC
34. Michael Bourn, HOU
35. Carlos Beltran, NYM
36. Jay Bruce, CIN
37. Denard Span, MIN
38. Jason Kubel, MIN
39. Johnny Damon, DET
40. Brad Hawpe, COL
41. Alex Rios, CHW
42. Michael Cuddyer, MIN
43. Garret Jones, PIT
44. Juan Pierre, CHW
45. Carlos Gonzalez, COL
46. Franklin Gutierrez, SEA
47. Dexter Fowler, COL
48. Rajai Davis, OAK
49. Ryan Ludwick, STL
50. Vernon Wells, TOR
51. Chris Coghlan, FLA
52. Julio Borbon, TEX
53. Nolan Reimold, BAL
54. Delmon Young, MIN
55. Lastings Milledge, PIT

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